So finally I have stolen the keyboard from Patrick and get the chance to put down some of my own reflections of this trip as we head up the coast of Norway and towards the Arctic circle. Patrick always tends to skim over the details of life aboard in favour of adventures (tall tales and big fish), so I thought I’d start with a day in the life ….
Getting started on Widdershins in the morning means first fighting over who gets up first from the the warm and cosy bed to crawl through a narrow tunnel to the main “living room” of the yacht to turn on the heater. Afterwards it’s rushing back through the freezing cold to wait in bed until the temperature become a little friendlier and we can finally both get up. On our old-fashioned kerosene stove we first have to pre-heat the burner with ethanol until its hot enough so that the paraffin can burn cleanly to heat the water foe the essential morning hot chocolate. After a wash and a hot drink we put as many layers on as possible – wind- and waterproof jackets and trousers, gloves and a warm beanie and maybe some heat pads to keep the fingers warm. Even though it’s early summer in Norway and the nights already last only a few hours, the mornings are usually below 10° C, and when standing behind the steering wheel for four hours non-stop in the wind and weather, it can very easily become uncomfortable.
Yesterday we were lucky enough to have a moderately strong wind from the South, and since we are heading north we could pole out the genoa and raise the main sail. Sailing with the wind at your back is very relaxed since you don’t feel the wind very much, but still make good speed. Yesterday we were sometimes flying overs the waves at almost 8 knots! We made quick progress this way and finally crossed 60° N. The equivalent in southern latitudes represents entering Antarctic waters, so 60° N is a big step to the long anticipated Arctic. And it did feel more arctic than the previous days: as we were manoeuvring through the narrow maze of islands we had a fantastic view on snow-capped mountains. And the weather turned more arctic too with cold gusting wind accompanied by heavy rain. Luckily we found very sheltered anchorage in Oksabåsen, a small island a little south of Bergen. It had a beautiful little beach, and although the rain was pouring down like mad we went out to collect a delicious meal of mussels for dinner.
Right now we are in Bergen – the first time in a bigger city for a while. The waterfront is crowded with snap-happy tourists, so while we were pulling up right in front of the famous “Bryggen” (old, colourful wooden merchant buildings) we felt a little bit like a tourist attraction ourselves. For now we are taking advantage of the offerings of this big city (like doing our laundry, drinking beer in a pub and eating Pølse), but all the while we are looking forward to leaving civilization behind once again on the long trip north.